Ok, maybe not all conflict in Alec Baldwin’s life centers on Words with Friends. But the actor best known for his role as Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock, and infamously for refusing to turn off his cell phone on an airplane, is in the news for allegedly punching a photographer, according to The Associated Press.
Baldwin was with his fiancé, Hilaria Thomas, at a Manhattan government office to get their marriage license when the couple was confronted by New York Daily News photographer Marcus Santos and other photographers, According to the AP, Baldwin claims that Santos lunged at him, almost hitting Baldwin in the teeth with the camera lens, according to TMZ. This raises the issue of whether Baldwin would have a self-defense claim if Santos were to file a civil lawsuit.
If Santos had a claim, it would be for battery. Battery is the intentional nonconsensual offensive touching of one person by another. It doesn’t require physical injury, as it could be an action like a stranger copping a feel.
Some of the defenses to battery are consent, lack of intent, and self-defense. Self-defense requires that there be a threat of actual harm, an honest perceived fear of harm, and no possibility of retreat.
Here, Santos approached Baldwin and Thomas with a camera and got close to Baldwin’s face. Now if Santos had lunged with the camera at Baldwin’s face as claimed, Baldwin might be able to claim self-defense because at that moment there was a threat of harm to his teeth, which he honestly thought were in danger.
The stumbling point on the self-defense claim is that Baldwin likely could have dodged the flying camera and didn’t need to push or punch Santos out of the way. Baldwin could also claim that Santos consented to the punch by being a member of the paparazzi. However, Baldwin’s personal beliefs on the paps are not likely to hold up in court.
A word to the wise, don’t touch other people unless you are close with them. Alec Baldwin punching a photographer is fun to read about, but getting punched in the face or being sued for doing so are not.